In the heart of the country Namibia is the capital, Windhoek. It is also the largest city in Namibia with 320.000 inhabitants. Windhoek has many beautiful sights and is located at 1650m altitude, surrounded by mountains. About 45 km outside the center is the international airport where planes from Frankfurt arrive, among other things. Many travelers in Namibia will only visit the capital briefly on their way to the rest of the country.
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In the city you can still easily recognize the German characteristics, from German street names to typical German food. The town is big enough for a day of sightseeing but remember that there are many hills so a car is recommended. Public transport is very rare as there are buses but it is not clear where they stop, the locals therefore do everything by taxi. You can find these everywhere and are cheap.
To get to know the city, this article has collected 10 sights with things you should have seen or done in Windhoek before you leave the city.
Table of contents
1. Christ Church
Windhoek's most famous landmark, also known as Christ Church, is the city's biggest tourist attraction. On top of the mountain with a view over downtown Windhoek is this 121 year old church. It is definitely one of the most beautiful sights in Windhoek. Construction started in the year 1907 to be opened in 1910 after the war between Germany and Khoikhoi, Herero and Ovambo as opposed to peace. The church is located in the middle of the roundabout in the arterial road of Robert Mugabe Avenue and is made of local sandstone from the nearby Avis dam.
2.Independence Memorial Museum
Next to the Christ Church it is Independence Memorial Museum also one of the must-see sights in Windhoek. The 40-meter high golden building is not to be missed and was designed and built by a North Korean company. At the top are 3 floors of museum, where the first floor tells the story under colonial rule of different countries. The second floor is about the resistance movement, whereby the third floor connects to the road to independence of the country Namibia. The museum was opened on the 21st March 2014 on the 24th anniversary of Namibia's independence as it is known today.
At the very top there is a rooftop bar with a beautiful view over the Christuskirche and the rest of the city. Back down again, take the glass elevator and enjoy Windhoek from above. On the square in front of the building is a large statue of Sam Nujoma, the first president of independent Namibia.
3. Alte Feste
The Alte Feste is hidden between the Christ Church and the Independence Memorial Museum. This old German fortress was found in 1890. This makes it one of the oldest buildings in the city of Windhoek. In the German colonial era it was used for the so-called Schutztruppe who stayed here until 1915. It has been an official monument since 1957, where the State Historical Museum has been located since 1962. Here you can find all information about the history of Namibia from the different tribes up to independence.
Where previously the Reiterdenkmal stood in front of the Independence Memorial Museum, this was moved in 2010 to the front of the Alte Feste. The Reiterdenkmal symbolizes the war between Germany and Herero/Namaqua and is a controversial subject that is still much discussed in the 80s and now. In December 2013, the statue was removed by an unknown person and it is not yet known who has it in his possession.
4. Namibia Craft Center
You must have passed this place before you go home, you can buy the most beautiful souvenirs here. The most beautiful handmade souvenirs, but also clothing, shoes and jewelry can be bought here from small entrepreneurs who are together in the Craft Center. Think of the bushmen sandals or one of the big five carved from wood. It is not directly one of the most beautiful sights in Windhoek, but very nice to visit.
If you have become a bit tired after all that shopping, you can rest in the nearby Craft Café. Here you can order coffee, tea, juices and delicious smoothies. Don't forget to order something delicious to eat.
5. Visit to Township Katatura
In the north of the city of Windhoek is the township Katatura. In the 50s, the black population of the city had to move here. They had to live here until the end of Apartheid. It is therefore known as “the place where people do not want to live”. The social services are lower than other parts of the city but there are clean water points distributed by Katatura and 2 toilets are available per 50 inhabitants. Electricity is rarely available and if there is, it is often illegally tapped from the overlying electricity network. For your own safety, do not go here alone but with a guide who is well known in Katatura.
The Township itself is an attraction in itself. There are self-built bars every few meters where they often brew their own beer. If there is no bar, you can certainly find a car wash or a hair salon where you can have your hair done for a few euros. Be sure to visit one of the many markets and eat the Namibian specialty, Kapana. Kapana is grilled beef with Kapana herbs and you eat it together with a salsa of tomatoes and onions in combination with vetkoek.
6. Watch the sunset from Hilton Skybar
For the most beautiful sunset that disappears behind the mountains, you have to go to the Hilton Hotel. This is one of the most popular attractions in Windhoek. Take the elevator to the top floor and grab a drink and enjoy. There is also a large swimming pool that you can use during the day for a small price. Be there well before sunset otherwise there will be no table available.
7. For the best meat dishes, go to Joe's Beerhouse
This lovely restaurant is located in the Eros district. The German influences are immediately noticeable upon entering and the recommended drink is Jägermeister. The menu includes schnitzels, but also delicious game steaks. In short, go here and enjoy the conviviality and the good and affordable food. Vegetarians better skip this restaurant because with only 3 choices it is quite limited.
Many students also come here for a nice evening out, see my blog Study in Namibia | A blog about universities and student life
In the center of the city of Windhoek is the public park, Zoo Park, on Independence Avenue. Many local people gather here in their spare time to enjoy the weather while enjoying a snack and a drink. Take a look at the Vinyls Café located at the Zoo Park and feel as if you are in the 80s. This is also a place where many students work and study during the day and enjoy their free time in the evening.
9.Windhoek Railway Station
Since 1912, this train station has been in this state in the city of Windhoek. The TransNamib Museum is located on the first floor of the building. Here the history of the train network in Namibia is showcased. It is one of the must-see sights in Windhoek.
Today, a TransNamib train still runs from Windhoek to Swakopmund, Keetmanshoop, Walis Bay or Tsumeb. The railway is also mainly used for freight transport. For the more luxurious experience, a ride on the Desert Express is necessary to Swakopmund. Take your time for this because there are several activities on the way for a complete experience. It is not cheap, but it is an experience for life.
10. Am Weinberg
Nestled against the mountain with stunning views over the Ludwigsdorf and Klein Windhoek districts, this modern boutique hotel makes you feel like you're in Dubai. Go for an African house wine and enjoy the sunset among their own vineyards on the Sky Lounge or book a lovely afternoon to yourself in the spa.
Are you looking for other fun things to do from Windhoek? Then visit Etosha National Park!
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